Tuesday, August 31, 2010

dinner date - lamb abruzzi

This lamb dish is one of my absolute favourites. Please do try it, as it is far more delicious than the photos suggest! (I find meat really hard to photograph...) You poke holes in the lamb leg, make a stuffing with bacon, garlic and herbs, and stuff it into the holes ....so the smoky, herby, garlicky flavour seeps into the meat as it roasts. When it is nearly cooked, the lamb is anointed with a generous quantity of balsamic vinegar which reduces to form a sticky sauce base, then is covered in buttery, parmesan breadcrumbs which crisp up beautifully. This is so tasty.
We ate it traditional style with roast potatoes, kumara and yams, and peas and broccoli. In summer it is lovely to serve alongside some interesting salads. There is a little admin throughout the cooking time, so start cooking the lamb 1 1/2-2 hours before you want to eat it.

Lamb Abruzzi (from Julie Biuso's book Viva L'italia)

3 rashers bacon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1.5-2 kg lamb leg
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp soft butter

Preheat oven to 190c.
Combine the bacon, garlic, herbs and pepper - I do this in the food processor to save chopping them up separately, and it results in a fine cohesive mixture. Use a sharp knife to make deep slits in the lamb, and force the stuffing into these, using the end of a teaspoon. I used a partially boned out carvery leg, so poked stuffing into the flap where the bone had been. Any stuffing left over is lovely just rubbed into the outside of the meat.

Combine the cheese, breadcrumbs and butter and put aside.

Rub the lamb with olive oil, grind over the pepper, and bake for 45 minutes. Take lamb out of oven and pour over the balsamic vinegar (I also add a splash of water to stop it burning) and sprinkle lamb with the salt. Return to oven for another 15 minutes. Remove, and pack the breadcrumbs onto lamb. Cook a final 15 minutes, remove cover with foil and rest for at least 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on things to check the balsamic doesn't burn, if it starts to get too sticky add a wee pour of water) This cooking time results in lovely pink lamb, the end bits will be more well done. Scrape the sticky balsamic reduction off the roasting tray, bubble over a high heat along with the meat juices, pour over meat and ENJOY.

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